Big Ten stock report: Week 8

Invest wisely.


Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst: Chryst called a masterful game against Ohio State, especially on the decisive 10-play, 73-yard touchdown drive after Ohio State had cut Wisconsin's lead to 21-18. He strayed from standard procedure and called four consecutive pass plays before wisely going to running back James White in the red zone. Chryst mixed personnel well all game and made a great decision to feature receiver Nick Toon on quick passes.

Purdue's rushing attack: Basketball on grass this is not, but it's still working for Purdue. The Boilermakers eclipsed 200 rushing yards for the fifth consecutive game, the first time they've done so since the 1973 season. Danny Hope wanted to spark the run game this fall, and despite a rash of injuries at both running back and quarterback, he's finding the players (Dan Dierking, Rob Henry) to get it done.

Michigan State's defense: Takeaways can bring a defense to a whole new level, and Michigan State has proved it this season. The Spartans already have twice as many interceptions (12) as they had all of last season. They've forced 18 turnovers this year after having only 14 in 2009. All four starters in the secondary had a hand in a takeaway against Illinois.

Iowa S Tyler Sash: One of the Big Ten's top playmakers in 2008 and 2009, Sash finally got on the board with his first interception this season at Michigan, returning it 36 yards. Sash holds Iowa's record for career return yards with 386, which ranks fourth in Big Ten history. The junior also had a 37-yard return following a blocked field goal attempt. Sash added seven tackles in the win.

Indiana WRs Damarlo Belcher and Tandon Doss: The Hoosiers' talented tandem continues to get it done on Saturdays, combining for 14 receptions, 224 receiving yards and two touchdowns against Arkansas State. They became the first Indiana players to both eclipse 100 receiving yards in a game since James Hardy and Ray Fisher in 2007. Doss finished with 241 all-purpose yards.


Ohio State's defensive line: This group rarely ends up here, but it got overwhelmed by Wisconsin's offensive front on Saturday night. The Buckeyes recorded no sacks or quarterback hurries and recorded only two tackles for loss. Nathan Williams struggled after some strong performances, and Cameron Heyward was held in check as Wisconsin created some enormous rushing lanes for its backs.

Michigan's third-down defense: A few more stops might have been enough for Michigan's offense to rally past Iowa, but Greg Robinson's defense couldn't get it done again. Iowa converted 7 of 13 third-down attempts in Saturday's win, including a third-and-14 right before halftime when it seemed content to settle for a field goal. Instead, the Hawkeyes reached the end zone to lead 21-7 at the break. Michigan has allowed a league-worst 42 third-down conversions this year.

Michigan State's offensive line: After a tremendous performance at Michigan, the Spartans' front five struggled against a good Illinois defensive line. Michigan State racked up only 93 rush yards and couldn't get Edwin Baker, Le'Veon Bell or Larry Caper going. Fortunately for the Spartans, an opportunistic defense bailed them out.

Minnesota's run game: You can't play power football if your top two running backs finish with only 51 yards. I know Minnesota had to pass more than it wanted to after falling behind 21-0, but the Gophers couldn't execute their power run in the first half. After a great start in the opener at Middle Tennessee, Minnesota has slipped to ninth in the league in rushing.

Illinois' second-half production: The Illini are hanging around in games but struggling to finish them off. They were outscored 23-0 in the second half Saturday at Michigan State and have been outscored 43-23 in the fourth quarter through the first six games. That trend needs to end if Illinois wants to go bowling.